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Ramos hoping to build on strong series vs. Brewers


Ramos hoping to build on strong series vs. Brewers

The Nationals know they have a long way to go before they can climb out of their current hole in the NL East standings. That said, the feeling among players after Sunday afternoon's series-clinching win over the Milwaukee Brewers was the hope that their biggest bugaboo in recent weeks -- the struggling offense -- might finally start to to turn things around.

You can put Wilson Ramos at the top of that list. His mammoth fifth-inning home run off Matt Garza to right-center (measured at an estimated 436 feet) was just his third extra-base hit in the month of August and was his first long ball since July 21.

"It was a good day," the beaming 28-year-old catcher said at his locker after the game. "That at-bat I was looking for the fastball. He throw me the fastball on the first pitch for a ball. He throw it again, and I was waiting for it."

Ramos' struggles at the plate have gone mostly under the radar this season, particularly when compared to the attention that the likes of Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth have received during their respective slumps. But unlike a good chunk of the lineup, Ramos' health hasn't been the issue all year. At 95 games played, he's on pace to play close to a full season for the first time since his breakout 2011 campaign.

In fact, Ramos was willing to show reporters just how eager he is to return to his form from four years ago. As he was talking during his postgame interview, he pulled out one of the many sheets of paper in his locker that featured pictorial differences between his 2011 batting stance and stride at the plate versus what he's doing recently. It was a lighthearted moment that drew laughter, but was an illustration of what he's trying to do to resuscitate his power numbers for the season's stretch run.

"I feel more comfortable right now," he said. "Those pictures help me to change my approach at home plate. That helped me out a little bit. Today I was swinging great at the plate, seeing the ball good and that help me to go out there and get more confident. I need to get my comfort back."

It's easy to forget now, but at one point Ramos was once projected to be one of the better power-hitting catchers in the National League. Even as recently as 2013, he slugged .470 through 78 games, which would have been good for second in the NL at the position had he played in enough games to qualify. Of course, one home run doesn't cure one's ails, but Sunday's moonshot was a reminder that he still has that kind of ability.

"That’s the kind of power he’s got," said manager Matt Williams. "If he can elevate the pitch and elevate the way he hits the ball then he can do that. Good single to right in the first at-bat and then the homer. Good swings."

Like many Nats hitters, it's probably too late for Ramos to finish the season with big-time numbers. But a solid weekend could be the launching pad for happier times during the season's most critical juncture.

"[It] feels great right now," Ramos said. "After a bad day, a good day [is] coming. So we have to enjoy every good moment."

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.